23 villages around Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve to be no go zones for resorts

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n order to allow free passage for wildlife, the local advisory committee (LAC) of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has proposed no go zones for resorts in 23 villages close to the tiger reserve.

The 23 ecological sensitive areas surrounding the reserve include where new resorts or expansion of existing ones will not be allowed include Thanegaon, Junona, Dewada, Adegaon, Agarzari, Chorgaon, Nimbala, Pahmi, Haldi, Khutwanda (Dixit), Doni, Zari, Pangdi, Piparheti, Moharli, Sitarampeth, Karwa, Pandharwani, Chichghat, Ambezari, Ghosri, Mamla, and Fulzari.

The revenue authorities have been asked not to grant non-agriculture (NA) permission in these areas for any new tourism facilities. However, home stays to be run by only villagers will be allowed.

Now attempts are being made by the resort lobby to drop Moharli, Khutwanda and Ghosri from the list where a lot of stakes are involved. A meeting has been called on May 20 to discuss the issue at divisional commissioner BV Gopala Reddy’s office. Reddy is also chairman of the LAC. The meeting is likely to be attended by principal secretary (forest) Praveen Pardeshi.

“Last year, Tadoba officials had stopped construction of a resort by a Nagpur-based hotelier in Moharli after tiger pugmarks were found on his premises. There is regular tiger presence in Ghosri, Moharli and Khutwanda where some resorts already exist. Some of these villages were also in the news for recent conflict. Any further development would prove detrimental for tigers,” said Bandu Dhotre, honorary district wildlife warden for Chandrapur.

Virendra Tiwari, chief conservator of forests (CCF) & field director of TATR, confirmed about the May 20 meeting but did not go into the details saying the issue had figured in the LAC meetings.

The new guidelines empower LAC to review the strategy with respect to protected area and make recommendations to the state government to ensure site specific restrictions on buildings and infrastructures in private areas in proximity to core and critical tiger habitats or buffer zones keeping in mind the corridor value.

As per the ecotourism guidelines by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in order to allow free passage to wildlife, development should be sensitive to the conservation of flora and fauna and the corridor value of the area. Besides, the guidelines also say no to new tourist facilities on forest lands.

Maharashtra environment minister Sanjay Deotale, who is also guardian minister of Chandrapur, on March 20 has written to the divisional commissioner to drop three villages from the list citing reasons to develop tourism facilities to benefit locals by way of livelihood options.

Deotale admitted to writing to the commissioner but said that he had an open mind on the issue. “If the areas are tiger sensitive, I have no problem in promoting home stays,” he stressed. A decision in this regard will be taken on May 20, he added.

Original Story: Times of India